When it comes to the best Speakeasy in Buenos Aires, both locals and visitors are fully aware that the most impressive haunts are saved for the largest barrio in the capital... Palermo.
Situated northeast of the Argentine capital, Palermo is a leafy neighborhood and a favorite stomping ground for artists, backpackers and chic hipsters: however, there are multiple sub-districts within this greater barrio which showcase a slightly different vibe, and Palermo Soho is the most popular of these for good reasons.
Palermo Soho and Speakeasies in Buenos Aires
After a week in Palermo "Soho" and you are still just scratching the surface of what it has to offer. Offering designer boutiques, colorful café’s and savvy market stalls, there is something to see at every turn in this neighborhood, which draws comparisons to the famous New York City district that gave rise to the name.
There is depth to Palermo Soho and the multitude of speakeasies that are hidden there.
In case you are wondering, the term “speakeasy” refers to the illicit liquor establishments during prohibition (1920-1933) in the United States. At the time, it was illegal to consume alcohol, so discreet bars were operated in equally discreet locations. As you might expect, these bars were devoid of any signage and exclusive in a sense that entry was often by invitation only.
With all that said, here are a few speakeasies in Palermo Soho that are worth checking out:
1. Bar 878 – Thames 878
As with many of the best speakeasies, the exterior of Bar 878 is unassuming. In fact, most first-timers are likely to pass several times before realizing the doorway is actually there.
A rather contemporary speakeasy in the sense that the bar is immaculate, clean and a lot more upscale than most alternatives. The interior workmanship and intricate design work together with the result being a warm and vibrant, character-filled atmosphere.
Featuring talented mixologists and an extensive range of liquor, the bar offers a superb lineup of cocktails. We could recommend the “Fernet Branca” for its peach and peppered vodka mix. but in truth, the "Lombardi with Campari" is just as satisfying and likely to exceed the highest expectations.
As for the entertainment, you will find 60’s and 70’s music with everything from the Hollies and Johnny Cash to Creedance Clearwater Revival. While this may sound somewhat odd for an Argentinian speakeasy, the music works and becomes an important part of the overall experience.
2. La Pasionaria - Godoy Cruz 1669
La Pasionaria is an endearing speakeasy in Palermo Soho where antique furnishings and Japanese-Peruvian fusion food are a welcome complement to the cocktails.
On first impression, La Pasionaria can resemble a spacious living room, and the antiquated decoration is both artistic and fascinating. As we mentioned, you will find the food and drink are well worth the wait. La Pasionaria is also the host of live music every evening with Bossa nova and jazz which invites guests to make their way onto the dance floor.
3. The Harrison Speakeasy – Malabia 1764
The Harrison Speakeasy is visually stunning and pays homage to the original Harrison family, led by Nick Harrison. During the prohibition era, the Harrison family owned a fish-market in New York City which was also the top-secret home of a very exclusive speakeasy. The details of this historical time period and Harrison’s jail sentence are reflected in this Speakeasy’s menu.
Although this Speakeasy is a members-only bar, visitors to the attached restaurant are invited for a cocktail at the end of a meal, and if you really need it, you can always just ask for the special password. A highlight of our visit was experiencing the original cocktails like the union Pacific, a generous mix of vodka, ginger, lemon and earl grey tea. A crowd favorite.
Note: You won’t find very many pictures online of this speakeasy as photography is banned in the Speakeasy – yet one more reason to experience it for yourself.
4. Victoria Brown Bar – Costa Rica 4827
With a large mural of Queen Victoria marking the spot of the Victoria Brown Bar, the doorway is largely unassuming for one of the chicest bars in Buenos Aires. In fact, at a time when speakeasies can feel somewhat bland or forced, the Victoria Brown Bar offers a distinct sense of authenticity which is often absent in other speakeasies.
Unlike other speakeasies in Palermo Soho, there is no need for membership or passwords, and it must be said that the experience feels no less exclusive. When you walk into the front room of Victor Brown Bar, you enter into what looks like an open space with two hostesses sitting in the back corner, their backs against a brick wall. A kind greeting is exchanged and they push open the brick wall and a hallway behind the door is revealed. Follow your hostess down the hallway and you’re led into a dark room offering intricate design and a craftsman’s attention to detail. A giant clock hovers over the bar where three bartenders pour elaborate cocktails over dark wood finished tables while customers mingle in what feels like an old factory, complete with details that include exposed brick, copper drum lights and a steam room door to the right.
As for which cocktail? “Desde Cuba Con Amor” is an unmistakable mix of aged rum, syrup, bitter, smoke and citrus that you will not forget anytime soon. Indeed, this Cuban inspired cocktail is made with the same love and care as the inviting Victoria Brown Bar herself.
Do you have a favorite speakeasy in Palermo Soho or Buenos Aires? What exclusive haunts should we add? Please let us know in the comments.